Friday, January 4, 2013

Focaccia Challah with Olive Oil, Garlic and Rosemary

This challah, originally a fabulous focaccia bread recipe from Lynn Kutner of my own Center for Kosher Culinary Arts, has been altered to make a airy, savory challah**, perfect to wow guests at Friday night dinner. And I mean, you will really wow them! The challah is best the same day it's baked, so cover it tightly to use even the following day.

The health benefits of using this recipe over other egg challah or even water challah recipes is quite clear. With only teaspoons of sugar as opposed to cups, and with no eggs and with olive oil instead of vegetable oil, this is a truly delicious, even heart-healthy alternative to a high-fat, high-cholesterol, high-sugar content challah. And the best part is you won't miss a thing. 


4 packages dry yeast
4 and 1/2 cups cool water
4 tsp sugar
2/3 cup olive oil
1-2 tsp dried rosemary
12 cups unbleached bread flour

2 tbsp coarse kosher salt


3 teaspoons additional chopped dried rosemary1 tsp dried granulated or minced garlic
additional coarse kosher salt for sprinkling

additional olive oil for brushing
olive oil or (other nonstick oil) spray


Dissolve the yeast in the water and mix in sugar. Let mixture stand for five minutes. Then, add olive oil and rosemary (or substitute your favorite herb). In another bowl, combine flour with salt, and mix with a fork. Either by hand or using the bread dough attachment on a stand mixer, slowly add two cups of the flour mixture at a time to the liquid mixture until all is combined and a dough forms. Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes. Turn out dough into a large oiled bowl or container and cover lightly. Allow to rise for 2 hours. In cold temperatures, allow more time for the rise or do the rise in a lukewarm oven (heat oven to 170 degrees, turn off the oven, and then put the dough in, making sure your bowl or container is oven-safe). 

Once the dough has risen, separate dough roughly into sprayed pans and press lightly to make nooks and crannies. Brush olive oil on top of the dough and sprinkle with coarse salt, rosemary and garlic. Allow dough to rise an additional half hour. 

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes. Challah is done when nicely browned on top.  

This recipe yields 4 large challahs with 12 cupcake tin sized rolls (or any other combination). The recipe can be easily halved. 

**If you say a bracha over at least 2 lbs 10 oz. of flour (acceptable according to ArtScroll), then this recipe qualifies for a bracha.